Epiphany

I regret to say that, after having seen this painting of Thomas Howard (Duke of Norfolk and uncle to Anne Boleyn) about a gazillion times, it JUST occurred to me that he is not actually holding some kind of Tudor snooker cue. For the student of history, this is definitely a facepalm moment.

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The gold staff is actually his staff of office as Earl Marshall of England.

However, I bet he could have played snooker with it if he’d wanted.

I doubt he would have wanted, though. Sigh.

The Tangled Family Relations of William de Braose (either) and Llywelyn the Great

I’ve been trying to write these histories for a while, but there’s SO MUCH to cover that I’ve finally decided to break it up into juicy little bite-size bits. To reward myself for deciding, I’m going to start with one of the juiciest: the tangled web of interrelations between the family of Welsh Marcher Lord William De Braose and Welsh Prince of Gwynedd Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (“the Great”).

Let’s start with the family of William De Braose (the younger – I’ll call him “our” William to differentiate him from his grandfather, William 4th Lord of Bramber), to whom I am directly related in three ways on both my mother’s and father’s sides.

William De Braose, Lord of Abergavenny and son of Reginald De Braose by his first wife Grecia di Briwere (look below for more of Reginald’s marital history), married Eva Marshall and had four daughters:
Isabella de Braose, who married Llywelyn ap Iorwerth’s only legitimate son, Dafydd ap Llywelyn
Maud de Braose, who married Marcher lord Roger Mortimer (grandson of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth) – this is my father’s line
– Eleanor de Braose, who married Humphrey deBohun – this is my mother’s line
– Eva de Braose, who married William Cantelou, and who only has this one notation in our story. Sorry, Eva!

Next, let’s outline Llywelyn ap Iorwerth’s family. Llywelyn, also known as “Llywelyn Fawr” and “Llyweyn the Great”, was Prince of Gwynedd and eventually ruler of much of Wales. He married Joan Plantagenet, illegitimate daughter of King John (yes, the King John who is the baddie in so many Robin Hood tales. He also signed the Magna Carta, but I’m more excited by the fact that I have an ancestor who’s been animated by Disney and voiced by Peter Ustinov. I’m a weenie, I know.)

Prince John, as portrayed in the Disney movie “Robin Hood”

In later years, Llywelyn had Joan legitimized by the Pope in an effort to strengthen his legitimate son Dafydd’s claim to inherit, rather than his older but illegitimate son Gruffydd. His children by Joan are:
Dafydd, married Isabella de Braose
– Elen Ferch Llywelyn, married 3 times. Not in our story (as far as I know)
– Susannah Ferch Llywelyn, who died below marriageable age & isn’t part of our story
Gwladus Ddu (“the Dark”), married 1st Reginald de Braose, then 2nd Ralph de Mortimer
– Angharad Ferch Llywelyn, who’s not in our story
Marared or Margaret Ferch Llywelyn, who married 1st John de Braose and 2nd Walter Clifford (my dad’s lineage comes down through Walter)
– Elen The Younger Ferch Llywelyn, whose daughter later married Robert The Bruce and mothered the first Stuart king. However, that’s all we have to say about her.

Llywelyn the Great with his sons

Llywelyn the Great with his sons

Our story begins in 1205, when Llywelyn married Joan, daughter of King John, while his relationship with John was still cordial. Things between Llywelyn and the King went sour around 1210, however, possibly because of Llywelyn’s alliance with William de Braose (4th Lord of Bramber, the grandfather of “our” William de Braose via Reginald), who had been stripped of his lands by King John and cast into disgrace.

Gravestone of Joan Plantagenet. Was “alas! used as a horse-watering-trough, was rescued from such indignity, and placed here for preservation, as well as to excite serious meditations on the transitory nature of all sublunary distinctions.” St. Mary’s Church, Beaumaris

The actual sign from which the above caption is taken. This just makes me hoot.

The actual sign from which the above caption is taken. This just makes me hoot.

William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber and the grandfather of “our” William de Braose, had been Lord of Gower, Abergavenny, Brecknock, Builth, Radnor, Kington, Limerick, Glamorgan, Skenfrith, Briouze in Normandy, Grosmont, and White Castle (sliders!!), before falling out with King John and losing his lands. (And he went on the run, but his wife Maud St. Valéry, my 27th great-grandmother, and his eldest son William, were caught and killed by King John. But that’s a story for another day!)

In 1215, Llywelyn’s daughter Gwladus Ddu married (as her first husband) Reginald de Braose, the son of William de Braose 4th Lord of Bramber; but although they may have had a daughter, she’s not part of our line or our story. You may recall Reginald de Braose from above; he’s the father of “our” William. After Reginald’s death, she married Ralph de Mortimer and had a son, Roger Mortimer.

Confused yet? Oh, just wait. 😀 I love this, but I’ve had to graph it out several times just to get my head around it. DRAWN FAMILY TREES ARE COMING, just hang on. Keep breathing.

So back to Llywelyn himself. In 1217, after the death of King John, Reginald de Braose was induced by the crown to change sides, betraying Llewelyn, who promptly invaded his lands. Eventually Reginald was forced to offer Llywelyn submission and cede Brecon, Swansea, and Haverford. Presumably, peace ruled for a while between the families after this exchange.

In 1228, Llywelyn was fighting against Hubert de Burgh Justiciar of England, and after the fighting was over, Llywelyn paid 2,000 pounds to the crown, a sum which he raised through the ransom of one of his prisoners: William de Braose (the younger, who is “our” William). Apparently they hit it off, because an agreement was made to marry Dafydd, Llywelyn’s son and heir, to William’s daughter Isabella.

1228 was also a big year for Llywelyn’s daughter Gwladus Ddu, whose first husband Reginald died. After this, she was married to Marcher lord Ralph de Mortimer. They would have issue including Roger Mortimer, who would later marry William’s daughter Maud.

Let’s cut back to William’s family. In 1224, his daughter Maud was born. In 1230, when Maud was six years old, William made a trip to visit his friend Llywelyn, but — oops! — was caught alone with Joan in Llywelyn’s chamber in the dead of night and subsequently hanged. The Brut y Tywysogion chronicler commented: “that year William de Breos the Younger, lord of Brycheiniog, was hanged by the lord Llywelyn in Gwynedd, after he had been caught in Llywelyn’s chamber with the king of England’s daughter, Llywelyn’s wife”.

“On 2nd of May, at a certain manor called ‘Crokein, he was made ‘Crogyn, i.e. hanged on a tree, and this not privily or in the night time, but openly and in the broad daylight, in the presence of more than 800 men assembled to behold the piteous and melancholy spectacle.”
—Abbot of Vaundey as quoted by J.E. Lloyd., History of Wales from the Norman Invasion to the Edwardian Conquest, page 213.

After Llywelyn killed William de Braose, a message was sent to his widow Eva Marshall to ask her if she would still agree to Isabella’s marriage with Llywelyn’s son Dafydd. One can only imagine what Isabella thought; but the marriage was allowed to go forward, and later in 1230 Isabella and Dafydd were married. Isabella was very young, probably around 8 years old.

It appears that Joan and Llywelyn died in the same year, 1237. After his death, his son Dafydd succeeded him, but he and Isabella de Braose had no heirs, and when Dafydd died in 1246, Llywelyn’s greatly diminished legacy passed to Gryfydd’s son, Llywelyn ap Gryfydd. He will show up again later on our blog, in conjunction with one of my other ancestors. MWAHAHAHAHAAA! (giving my imaginary mustache an evil twirl) Among the poets who lamented Llywelyn the Great’s passing was Einion Wan:

True lord of the land – how strange that today
He rules not o’er Gwynedd;
Lord of nought but the piled up stones of his tomb,
Of the seven-foot grave in which he lies.

We’ve talked about the eventual fate of Dafydd, and of Gryfydd’s heir; now let’s go back to Llywelyn’s daughter Gwladus “The Dark”. Gwladus had been married to Reginald de Braose, Maud and Isabella’s grandfather, but Reginald died in 1230. Gwladus then married Ralph de Mortimer, and they had a son Roger.

Roger subsequently married Maud de Braose in 1247, thereby becoming Isabella’s brother-in-law *and* nephew by marriage, and Dafydd’s brother-in-law *and* nephew by blood.

You can't tell the players without a scorecard.

You can’t tell the players without a scorecard. Note: I made an error in classifying John de Braose as “our” William’s nephew. John was actually William’s cousin.

To finish up our little love knot, there is Marared or Margaret, another daughter of Llywelyn. In 1219, she married John de Braose, whose grandfather was William 4th Lord of Bramber. He was cousin to “our” William, who was father of Maud, Isabella, and Eleanor. Whew!

So:
– John was Gwladus’ brother-in-law, Dafydd’s brother-in-law, Roger’s uncle through Marared/Margaret’s sister Gwladus, Maud’s 1st cousin once removed, Roger’s 1st cousin once removed through Roger’s marriage to Maud, Isabella’s brother-in-law, Isabella’s 1st cousin once removed, and 1st cousin once removed to brother-in-law Dafydd through Dafydd’s marriage to Isabella
– Isabella was both Roger’s sister-in-law and aunt by marriage to Dafydd
– Maud was Isabella’s sister and also her niece by marriage to Roger, and daughter-in-law and step-granddaughter of Gwladus
– Llywelyn became father-in-law to Isabella and grandfather-by-marriage to Maud after killing their father. IMAGINE FAMILY HOLIDAYS. THE AWKWARDNESS.
– Probably more, but my head is spinning and I need to stop now.

Here are my family tree scribbles. I hope they help clarify things. I certainly needed to draw them so I could keep track of who was marrying whom. Yeesh!

Llywelyn ap Iorweth's line

Llywelyn ap Iorweth’s line. Note: John de Braose is not Isabella’s uncle, as I noted in his entry. I was getting overwhelmed at this point.

The de Braose line

The de Braose line

I’ll finish by apologizing for any errors, especially in degree or name of relationship; I’m still learning about who’s “once-removed” as opposed to a 2nd cousin, and this is a messy enough knot to confuse anyone. Well, almost anyone. :} If you spot any errors, I would appreciate kind corrections in comments. Thank you!!

LINKS
(some of my sources – I’ve favored Wikipedia because the person pages are interlinked, they often include references, and seem mostly correct.)

Llywelyn:
Castle Wales’ page on Llywelyn ap Iorwerth
Pen Y Bryn, the Princes’ Tower – Llywelyn & Joan’s home
Castle Wales’ page on the Kings of Gwynedd
Llywelyn’s page at English Monarchs site
Llywelyn the Great in “A History of Wales from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest” Vol 2, by Sir John Edward Lloyd (1911) Llywelyn’s part starts on P 612, “Early Manhood” and goes until at least p 693.
Sharon K. Penman’s link to interesting research on the family tree. Includes some of the questions about the maternity of the children, and the reasons many researchers tend towards the view I’ve outlined in the previous post.
Related to her book about this family.

Joan:
Joan’s grave
– Wikipedia’s entry on Joan
– Joan, Lady of Wales on English Monarchs site
“Thirteenth Century England X: Proceedings of the Durham Conference 2003” – Joan’s part starts on p 81 and continues, with a lot of information about our subsequent characters, including William de Braose the younger.

Dafydd ap Llywelyn:
– Wikipedia entry on Dafydd

Gwladus Ddu:
Wikipedia on Gwladus
– More information can be found in “Thirteenth Century England X”, under Joan above

Marared or Margaret ferch Llywelyn:
Halhead family tree including Margaret

William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber:
– Wikipedia entry
– Another page on William
– Matthew Boulter’s dissertation on William
– Michael Family site on William and his wife, Maud

Reginald de Braose
– Wikipedia

William de Braose
– House of Braose
– Wikipedia

Isabella de Braose:
Wikipedia entry on Isabella; has more info on her father’s death

Maud de Braose
Maud on Wikipedia

Roger Mortimer, 1st Baron Mortimer
– Wikipedia

Follow-up: Bocconoc House today

This is related to the piece I did the other day, about the Bocconoc estate’s devolution out of the Courtenay family, through to the Mohuns, and then Governor Pitt’s purchase of the estate with the funds from the sale of the Pitt, or Regent, Diamond.

Apparently the estate went through a restoration a few years ago. I actually saw a show about this on TV a couple of years ago, not knowing my connection to the house… I wish I could remember the “after” images from the show. lol Alas. Still, there are some interesting images in this article, including the tidbit that Charles I hid there during the British Civil War. I found some information about this in a book recently and am hoping to write that up soon. 😀

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in the restoration of a Cornish country house, enjoy.
Award-winning restoration for Cornwall country house

Death, Disgrace, And A Great Whacking Diamond

I love all the connections and random chances of history. This was one of those little after-stories you find if you look into what happens *after* your line wanders off somewhere less interesting. I was reading up on the Courtenay Earls of Devon, who were part of my mom’s heritage, when I followed my curiosity to the next page of the book and found this bit about the eventual fate of their estate, Boconnoc, after the line had died out (“for the compound name, “Bo-connoc”, it is taken from the barton and manor of land still extant there, with reference to the beasts that depastured thereon; and signifies prosperous, successful, thriving cows, kine, or cattle.” – “The Parochial History of Cornwall”, edited by Davies Gilbert).

I was following the line of Sir Hugh (“Boconnoc”) Courtenay of Haccombe. He was my 16th great-grandfather, and had a strong and thriving descent; but eventually the lands and title went out of the family. This seems to have been when Henry Courtenay, Marquess of Exeter and husband of Gertrude Blount (listed in the book as “Elizabeth Blount”, but I believe this is in error; more about Gertrude here) was executed for treason by Henry VIII in 1538. (Henry Courtenay and Gertrude Blount had one child, the 18th Earl of Devon, who died without issue in Padua on the 4th Oct. 1556. Well, if you’ve got to go, Padua seems like a nice place for it.)   In any case, the estate left the family (the author isn’t quite certain whether it was purchased from the Crown or disposed of in some other way), and passed through several hands before coming to rest in possession of a certain Reginald Mohun (incidentally. my 14th great grandfather in the Speccot line) in 1566.

Now, Reginald Mohun was the son or grandson of a William Moune, who married Isabel Courtenay, sister of Edward Courtenay, 16th Earl of Devon. So it was rather nice that the estate had come back into the hands of a branch of the family. Reginald duly married and got heirs, and 6 generations later – no longer in my line – they come to the last of their descendants: Charles, Lord Mohun.

Whew. Is your head spinning yet? Because mine is. But wait — there’s more. Charles, Lord Mohun, married twice. The first wife was Charlotte, daughter of _______ Mainwaring, Esq., and the author doesn’t seem to think much of her:

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Meow. Apparently, the duel that killed Charles was an argument over an estate left to Charlotte (that baggage). Wow. Chuck, with wives like that, who needs enemies? But I digress.

Here's the little sexypants himself.

Here’s the little sexypants himself.

Charles had a second wife, with whom he had no children; and after his death by duel, she sold all the Cornish and Devonshire estates in 1717 for fifty-four thousand pounds (a pittance) to Mr. Thomas Pitt, also known as Governor Pitt. When I read that name, it rang a bell, so I forged ahead.

Interestingly, this is the Mr. Pitt who came back from India with the Regent Diamond (more about that here). The Regent Diamond was a 141 carat diamond that was set into the crowns of Louis the XV and XVI, and Marie Antoinette wore it as a wee sparkly on her hat… as who would not? (Answer: anybody who didn’t want a headache from wearing around a bloody great diamond, that’s who.) The stone was stolen, found in the timbers of an attic in Paris, adorned Napoleon’s sword, and is now in the Empress Eugenie’s crown in the French Royal Treasury at the Louvre (where it was probably seen by my niece when she was on her recent honeymoon in Paris, or at least I hope so).

Empress Eugenie's crown, featuring the Regent Diamond

Empress Eugenie’s crown, featuring the Regent Diamond

So when Governor Pitt purchased the Boconnoc estate from Charles Mohun’s second wife, he did so with the money from the French purchase of the Regent Diamond.

I’m not sure if anyone else would have followed this rabbit hole quite so far, but… I do love jewelry so. It makes me happy to put together all these little pieces and come up DIAMOND. 😀

(Oh. And William Makepeace Thackeray fictionalised Mohun’s duels in his novel “The History of Henry Esmond”. So there’s that too, for you literature lovers.)

And now I need to unpretzel my brain.

—For more about Boconnoc and the adventures of the estate, “The Parochial History of Cornwall” is here.